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Retail briefs

Weather, calendar bruise retailers

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), August retail sales in the GAFS category (general merchandise stores, clothing and clothing accessories stores, furniture and home furnishings stores, electronics and appliances stores, and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores) rose 2 percent over last year but dipped 0.4 percent over July.

Consumers last month were impacted by severe weather throughout the country, shifting school schedules, and a late Labor Day weekend, said the NRF.

August retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department show that total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) dipped 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted over July and increased 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year, stated the NRF.

Furniture and home furnishings stores experienced a slight decline, falling 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted from July though continuing to rise 5.3 percent over last year.

First quarter GAFS sales increased 9.9 percent and second quarter sales rose 6.8 percent. The NRF has forecast 2004 GAFS sales to grow 6 percent over last year.

PJ Kids growing up

PJ Kids has reworked its furniture-oriented showroom here at 230 Fifth Ave. to feature infant and juvenile textiles.

The renovation focuses on a lifestyle presentation of bedding with coordinating decorative accessories for children from nursery, juvenile, tween, and teen.

The textiles line includes four-piece nursery sets, which include comforter, sheet, crib bumper and crib skirt, musical mobiles, and diaper stackers. The twin and full comforter and quilt sets, along with sheets that coordinate with each bedding pattern are also available. Window treatments are also included in the assortment with valance and curtain panels for most of the collections.

Also, PJ Kids is launching a new line of 10 dyed rugs with non-skid backing to retail for $59.

The 3-by-5 rugs are created with a process that injects dye into the yarns after they've been woven for a sharper resolution. They are also trimmed and carved to look as if they were sculpted, stated the company.

Sears gets virtual about home décor

Sears, Roebuck and Co. has enhanced its Web site with a feature that allows shoppers to mix and match different home fashions, paints and floor coverings.

On sears.com, shoppers can create rooms online. Using a “Virtual Decorator,” customers who want to redecorate or enhance their bedroom can view an image of a room on their computer screen and browse through a selection of Sears' home fashions, including Lands' End, Whole Home and Colormate. As shoppers click on choices for Sears' home fashion merchandise including bedding, floor coverings, window treatments and pillow options, the items are placed accordingly throughout the room. Users can also hang artwork or paint their room with a choice of colors available from Easy Living paint and choose flooring finishes.

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